Leavenworth I A True Bavarian Experience
Visiting Leavenworth, Washington is like stepping into a small Bavarian town. It’s just like you’re in Germany, but you’re not. The small mountain town in central Washington is modeled after Bavaria, which is a southeast state in Germany (think Munich). Leavenworth is home to dozens of shops, boutiques, wineries, tasting rooms, restaurants full of traditional Bavarian food, and beer gardens full of (you guessed it) German beer. In addition, there are loads of outdoor recreational activities and sports you can do. It is a great weekend getaway for everyone. Whether you are looking for a girls weekend, a romantic getaway with your sweetheart or a trip the whole family will enjoy, Leavenworth has a lot to offer a lot of people.
Leavenworth, Washington is located about two and half hours east of Seattle. Though the drive to Leavenworth is short, your experience will be much different from a stay in the city. The first thing you notice is the look of the town. When I say the town is modeled after a Bavarian village, I mean everything screams Bavaria. The design of the buildings, the store fronts, the type of restaurants, the various festivals and events held throughout the year—everything is connected to Germany. Also, Leavenworth is small. Everything seems to be just two blocks away from you at any given moment. When I first arrived in town, I parked my car and I didn’t touch it until I left to drive home.
There are many things to do and experience in Leavenworth. Downtown is full of little shops and boutiques. You can find a store selling pretty much everything: souvenirs, cooking gadgets, aged olive oils and vinegar, specialty chocolates and meats, gag gifts and even Christmas ornaments and decorations (I’ll get to Leavenworth’s love for the holidays in a bit). A few stores even let you try on traditional Bavarian costumes and take pictures. If you enjoy trying out different adult beverages, you can go wine tasting at the various tasting rooms or check out Icicle Brewing Company and the beer gardens located downtown. If you are a foodie, there are lots of traditional German restaurants that offer bratwurst, spaetzle, pretzels and schnitzel. Every restaurant also offers a great selection of imported German beers.
If you are more of the adventurous type, then Leavenworth is also a great place to visit as there are lots of recreational activities available for tourists to take advantage of. In the winter, you can go snowshoeing, downhill and Nordic skiing, sledding, downhill skiing and snowmobiling. You can even go on a sleigh ride or try out dog sledding. In the summer, you can go kayaking, rafting fishing, hunting, hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. The options are endless!
My favorite part about Leavenworth (and I’m fairly certain Tim would agree) is the city’s dedication to Christmas. It becomes a Christmas fairy tale in the winter months – and I don’t just mean around the holiday season. The city’s Christmas lights and decorations stay up until the snow melts. That means when you visit in the middle of February, the Christmas season is alive and vibrant in Leavenworth. There is even a store called Kris Kringl that sells Christmas decorations, ornaments and small Christmas trees year-round. As a big fan of Christmas, I was pleasantly surprised to see Leavenworth extend the celebration well past the New Year.
Leavenworth was founded in the late 1800s when the railroad was built over Stevens Pass. However, it wasn’t until the early 1960s that the city revamped itself as a Bavarian village. The locals wanted to create its own economy and draw tourist to the region. That is exactly what happened. Today, the city is flowing with tourists, and things for tourists to do and see. If I’m ever looking for another weekend getaway from the city, Leavenworth is at the top of my list of places to go.
Have you ever traveled to Leavenworth? What did you do? We’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Don’t forget to also check out Seattle Bloggers for more on great things to do in the city!